(okay, it ain't the most interesting read in the world, but dana carvey shows up at the end of this interview and i about shit my pants. the emphasis way down there is mine. enjoy)
President Bush on 'NYT' Spying Scoop: Not Main Story of Day By E&P Staff Published: December 16, 2005 2:30 PM ET
In another lengthy interview with a TV news anchor, following his sit-down with NBC's Brian Williams earlier this week, President Bush has taped an interview with PBS's Jim Lehrer, to air tonight. As part of the interview, Lehrer tried to press the president on the major scoop in The New York Times, and now other newspapers, today on the White House approval for the secretly spying on Americans by the National Security Agency. Here is that portion of the transcript.*
MR. LEHRER: First, the New York Times story this morning that says that you authorized secret wiretaps by the National Security Agency of thousands of Americans. Is that true?PRESIDENT BUSH: Jim, we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country, and the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them. I will make this point. That whatever I do to protect the American people, and I have an obligation to do so, that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people.
MR. LEHRER: So if, in fact, these things did occur, they were done legally and properly?PRESIDENT BUSH: So you're trying to get me to talk about a program--
MR. LEHRER: Yeah.
PRESIDENT BUSH: --that's important not to talk about, and the reason why is that we're at a war with an enemy that still wants to attack. I, uh--after 9/11, I told the American people I would do everything in my power to protect the country, within the law, and that's exactly how I conduct my presidency.
MR. LEHRER: Well, Mr. President, with all due respect, wouldn't you think--don't you believe that answer is going to lead people to believe that you're confirming that in fact you did this?PRESIDENT BUSH: We don't talk about sources and methods. Don't talk about ongoing intelligence operations. I know there's speculation. But it's important for the American people to understand that we will do--or I will use my powers to protect us, and I will do so under the law, and that's important for our citizens to understand.
MR. LEHRER: I don't want to "beat a dead horse" here, Mr. President--
PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay.
MR. LEHRER: --but the story is now all over the world.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah.
MR. LEHRER: I mean, it's on the front page of the New York Times, the Washington post, every newspaper in America today, and it's going--it's the main story of the day. So--PRESIDENT BUSH: It's not the main story of the day.
MR. LEHRER: Well, but I mean in terms of the way it's being covered--
PRESIDENT BUSH: The main story of the day is the Iraqi election.MR. LEHRER: Right, and I'm going to get to that.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay.
MR. LEHRER: But I mean, is it correct to say that the National Security Agency is normally told to do surveillance only on international calls rather than domestic calls, without reference to this specific thing?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I--Jim, I know that people are anxious to know the details of operations, they--people want me to comment about the veracity of the story. It's the policy of this government, just not gonna do it, and the reason why is is that because it would compromise our ability to protect the people. I think the point that Americans really want to know is twofold. One, are we doing everything we can to protect the people? And two, are we protecting civil liberties as we do so? And my answer to both is yes, we are. ...